“A child can teach an adult three things… To be happy for no reason. To always be busy with something. And to know how to demand with all his might that which they desire.” – Paulo Coelho
One would think that the older we get, the more me learn, and the better we get at, well, everything. Although this is generally true, there are some subjects and emotions on which we lose clarity. The complications and muddiness of life itself can often see us, as adults, forget how to see and behave in the simplest of ways.
Children’s views are, in a sense, much clearer than ours. Of course, their lives are infinitely less complex; they need not worry themselves with the many added pressures of adulthood. Ignorance may be bliss for kids, but there are some things that their unjaded selves seem to get right pretty consistently. One of those things is how to truly be kind. The kindness of children tends to be instinctual, animal, natural; acts born of a desire to discover and to connect with fellow human beings. As we learn more about the world, and develop our dislikes and insecurities, we often lose sight of the value of kindness to others and what it’s benefits are.
In a world where we make kindness a priority in how we interact with others, there would be much more positivity to go around; much more love, encouragement, creativity, confidence and joy. Let’s take a look at how kids display kindness, and consider how we might move closer towards this most generous of behaviours.
1. Be Present
If you are a regular reader of our blogs, then you will be no stranger to the idea of living in the moment; the philosophy of only concerning yourself with what is happening in the here and now. Children are experts at this. Kids, very young ones in particular, have no concept of forward planning, far off ‘what ifs’ or ‘when wills’. If you are looking for a pure example of living in the moment, just watch a toddler in a playground; you will find no better demonstration. Because of this, they make no judgements and hold no grudges… imagine not having those two things banging about in your head each time you meet a person. Take each moment in your day as it comes; this will help you not to impress moods or pre-conceptions from other parts of your life stop you from treating others kindly.
2. Happy for Happy’s Sake
Kids, in repose, are generally happier. The factory setting for most adults that I know is certainly not ‘happy’. It’s usually ‘fine’. Most children are happy, until something comes along to disrupt that. Adults, on the other hand, are often waiting for something to come along to make them happy. You might not think this describes you at all, but even if you are generally a positive person, I’m sure you have been pulled into despair on unfounded grounds from time to time. Take a leaf out of a child’s book… wake up tomorrow and decide to be happy. You’d be surprised at what a difference it makes to every part of your life; to every human interaction.
If happiness is something you struggle to just ‘switch on’, then perhaps try to pick an event you are looking forward to in order to kick your day off positively. Alternatively, be mindful of the things in your life that you are grateful for. A few moments focus on gratitude at the beginning of your day can be a wonderful kick start to a good mood.
3. Welcome New People
Children, as we learnt before, tend not to pre-judge new people. This can lead to surprising friendships, and an opportunity for both children in this interaction to learn, compromise and grow. Be mindful of your tendency to judge next time you meet somebody new. Instead of approaching them with caution, approach them with a clean slate and a focus towards kindness, you might be surprised at the fruitful relationships you build.
4. Learn to Move On
Kids don’t hold grudges very often. Sometimes, as adults, grudges and shared histories are too much to ignore… having said that, most of the time, that is just not the case. Think about the worth of holding on to past conflict… is the weight of it more trouble than it’s worth. ‘Forgive and forget’, a cliché though it is, may be one of the most freeing ideas you integrate into your life and relationships.
5. Be Curious
It is often hard to be kind to those who have done us wrong. However, on reflection, I have often conceded that many little things that have annoyed or hurt me have not been intended to do so. Being mindful about why others might act or react in a certain way has helped me to be kinder to people and to understand their circumstances. Be curious. Try to understand where another person is coming from before you decide they are out to get you. Curiosity is an enormous part of how children learn… and learning is something that we should never feel that we are finished with.
By Chris Thomson
Whilst you are on your kindness quest, why not extend it to the lovely planet we all live on! Looking After Planet Earth: Little Kindnesses to Adopt in Your Lifestyle
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